A lobbyist is a person that is supposed to help a Politician to make up his mind, not only help him but pay him. – August 25, 1929 – Will Rogers
I’m not sure when lobbyists got such a strangle hold on our legislative process but it is clear from this quote that they were in the “buy-off” business even during Will’s day. It is interesting to note that this quote came just two months before the biggest stock market crash in history. That’s the one that started the Great Depression of the 1930s. Wall Street was going crazy with power at that time. They were buying off congressmen for a dime a dozen.
In some ways I feel sorry for all our representatives in congress. I know, I know what you are saying but don’t give me too hard of a time for this moment of weakness. Just let me explain. These guys, and increasingly gals (at least in the Democratic party) control billions of bucks on a daily basis and as a result there are literally thousands at their doors who want their share and for as little work as possible. Here is the lowly congressman with his limited staff who has to deal with all these lobbyists.
There are currently about 12,000 registered lobbyists in Washington DC so on average each spends about a half a million bucks a year to get their voice heard. That adds up to about 23 1/2 lobbyists per congressmen. These yahoos get paid big bucks if they can get that special “loop-hole” word added to legislation. It means big money for those they represent.
I will admit that there are some lobbyists who actually provide useful information to the people voting on the various bills. Guys like Jim Wallis at Sojourners who has nothing personal to gain keeps the “least of these” at least slightly on the minds of those writing bills. I guess if you are part of the military/industrial complex you think those yahoos who advocate bigger and bigger budgets for more and more weapons systems, most of which we don’t need, are your heroes.
I guess it comes down to the fact that you are a hero or a bum depending on what you are championing. 🙂